Taylor James Enriquez receives 19 1/2 years for killing Alberto Nunez after guilty plea

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LAS CRUCES, N.M. — District Court Judge Douglas Driggers sentenced Taylor James Enriquez to 19 1/2 years, July 6, 2018, the maximum sentence after he pleaded guilty, April 10, 2018, to charges of second-degree murder, false imprisonment and aggravated battery causing great bodily harm. Driggers’ sentence was the maximum under the plea deal.

Enriquez stabbed Alberto Nunez in the neck with a broken bottle, killing him, on Feb. 26, 2017, according to court documents.

Taylor Enriquez

He also attacked Manuel Lopez Polanco, who had injuries to his face. The attack on Lopez Polanco was the basis of the aggravated battery charge.

According to the plea agreement, signed by prosecutor Rebecca Duffin, Enriquez was going to face a maximum sentence of 19 1/2 years in prison and that the sentences for each crime would run consecutively, or one after another. His defense attorney, James Baiamonte, agreed that he would argue for a minimum sentence of 15 years followed by five years of supervised probation while prosecutors would argue for 19 1/2 years.

On July 9, 2018, Driggers sentenced Enriquez to the maximum allowed, 19 1/2 years. Although second-degree murder carries a maximum sentence of 15 years, Enriquez was also sentenced to the maximum sentences on the charges of false imprisonment and aggravated battery.

Continue reading “Taylor James Enriquez receives 19 1/2 years for killing Alberto Nunez after guilty plea”

Joel Arciniega-Saenz: Benjamin Montoya — 4-22-2017


On April 22, 2017, Benjamin Montoya and his pregnant girlfriend were staying at their friend Joel Arciniega-Saenz’s motel room.

After a fight, someone shot Montoya in the chest. Arciniega-Saenz claimed a petite woman shot his friend, but Montoya’s girlfriend, Dakota Ocampo, alleged that Arciniega-Saenz was the shooter.

She had previously spurned Arciniega-Saenz’s affections and told him she viewed him as a brother.

Arciniega-Saenz was charged with an open count of murder and was indicted on a charge of first-degree murder on May 4, 2017 according to the docket.

Prosecutor Rebecca Duffin dismissed the case on April 20, 2018, without prejudice, “because new information has come to light that requires further investigation in this matter.”

The incident

On April 22, 2017, Benjamin Montoya was shot in the chest at the Town House Motel on West Picacho in Las Cruces.

With him were his on-again, off-again girlfriend, Dakota Ocampo and his friend, Joel Arciniega-Saenz, Las Cruces Police Department Detective Ricky Bardwell wrote in an affidavit for Arciniega-Saenz’s arrest.

All of them were at Arciniega-Saenz’s room at the motel. Ocampo and Montoya had come to spend the night there.

Alleged Eye Witness Dakota Ocampo’s version

Joel Arciniega-Saenz

Ocampo told Bardwell that she has been friends with Arciniega-Saenz for the past five years and she considered him to be a brother. At the same time, she had been in the relationship with Montoya for the past few months, Bardwell wrote, based on his interview with Ocampo.

“(Joel) met with her at Joel’s apartment to stay with her,” Bardwell wrote. “(Joel) has had a crush on her, and she told him she valued for friendship too much and did not to ruin it.”

Ocampo treated Arciniega-Saenz as a confidante, and told him all about her intimate relations.

She claimed that she fell asleep when she woke to Montoya arguing with a tall, thin man with shaggy hair whom she did not know. Because she did not have her glasses on, she could not recognize the man’s face, but noticed he was wearing a white shirt.

“(During) the argument between Benjamin and the Male she is struck in the mouth,” Bardwell wrote. “(Benjamin) and the male begin got physically (sic) fight. The fight moved towards the area where the refrigerator is located, and eventually back towards the bed.”

Montoya is pushed onto the bed and the unknown man pulled a gun and shot him, then ran out of the apartment.

“(Benjamin) screams for help, and walks out of the apartment towards the parking lot,” Bardwell wrote.

Shortly thereafter, Ocampo alleged that Arciniega-Saenz walked into the apartment, told her not to worry and to stay in the apartment before walking back outside.

“(Dakota) mentioned to the Affiant Benjamin had confronted her the previous night about being pregnant, and it had become a topic of conversation throughout the night,” Bardwell wrote. “Affiant asked Dakota if she is able to recognize people in the same room without her seeing glasses? She stated yes.”

She told Bardwell that the assailant was wearing the same clothes as Arciniega-Saenz, then said she was only 60 percent sure.

“Affiant asked if Joel was the person who shot Benjamin?” Bardwell wrote. “Dakota began to cry and stated yes.”

Interrogation of Joel Arciniega-Saenz

When he talked to Arciniega-Saenz, the latter allegedly said that Montoya and Ocampo were inside sleeping when he woke up and went outside to smoke. Bardwell did not write if he read Arciniega-Saenz his Miranda rights before questioning him.

“(He) sees a female approach him and ask for Dakota,” Bardwell wrote. “He thinks she is a friend of Dakota, and allows her to enter the apartment. (During) this time Benjamin and Dakota are still asleep. (While) he was outside doing his thing, he began to hear arguing coming from inside the apartment.”

He allegedly told Bardwell he heard a gunshot, hid behind a bush and watched as the skinny woman, whom he described as resembling a drug addict, ran out of the apartment, into the parking lot and left in a silver car. He also claimed he never approached Montoya or went back into the apartment.

Interview of neighbor Annette Martinez

His neighbor, Annette Martinez, told Bardwell that Arciniega-Saenz lives a few doors down from her.

Town house motel
Town House Motel, Las Cruces, NM. Photo by Thomas Hawk/Flickr. CC BY-NC

“(For) several days, Mrs. Martinez has been hearing Joel, Dakota and Benjamin argue, yell or make a commotion,” Bardwell wrote, based on his conversation with Martinez. “(On) today’s date, Mrs. Martinez hears Dakota and Benjamin arguing outside of room 105, which is Joel’s room. (They) continued to argue but took the argument back into the house where she could still hear them.”

Shortly after, she heard a bang. Initially she did not see anything. A short time later, Ocampo and Arciniega-Saenz were allegedly standing over Montoya’s body, he wrote.

“(Mrs.) Martinez is familiar with Joel and has witnessed him to become more aggressive lately and that he has recently made comments as to wanting to kill someone,” Bardwell wrote.

Bardwell claimed in the affidavit that Montoya’s injuries were not consistent with the shot being fired by a petite woman. He did not list his reasoning.

“Affiant observed a red substance to be blood on Joel’s sleeve, which is not consistent with the statement Joel gave of not making contact with Benjamin or enter the apartment after he is shot,” Bardwell wrote. “(Joel’s) statement and knowledge of the bullet wound to Benjamin is not consistent with him not making contact with Benjamin or entering the room after he is shot.”

When he looked at the bottom of Arciniega-Saenz’s shoes, he allegedly saw blood, as well as a large amount of blood at the entrance to the apartment, he wrote.

“Upon observation of Dakota, injuries were observed upon her body to include scratches upon her neck and an injury upon her mouth,” Bardwell wrote. “Due to affiant’s training and experience, the injuries that were observed were consistent to someone being involved in a physical domestic altercation which is consistent to Mrs. Martinez’s observations.”

Arciniega-Saenz was charged with an open count of murder.

PC Joel Arciniega-Saenz - 4-24-2017


Case dismissed

On June 1, 2017, a Las Cruces grand jury indicted Joel Arciniega-Saenz on a single charge of first-degree murder.

On Oct. 20, 2017, his attorney, George Harrison, filed a motion to review the conditions of his release. Arciniega-Saenz had previously been ordered held on a $500,000 bond. In his motion, he wrote that the prosecution had not provided any forensic evidence and that the evidence that was collected corroborated his statement to police and asked the bail be reduced to $10,000.

According to Det. Ricky Bardwell, Arciniega-Saenz allegedly said a skinny woman came up to him while he was outside smoking, then went into the room he was staying in. He heard an argument, then a gunshot. He hid behind a plant, then saw the skinny woman run out of the room.

Following a hearing on Nov. 27, 2017, the District Court judge reduced his bail to $10,000, the amount requested by the defense.

On Dec. 1, 2018, prosecutor David Ruark, filling in for Rebecca Duffin, filed an emergency motion to reconsider a previous motion for a continuance for a trial that was scheduled to start on Dec. 4, 2017. He wrote that the prosecution’s case was “almost entirely” dependent on Ocampo’s testimony. He was filling in for Duffin because she had a family emergency.

Investigators with the Third Judicial District Attorney’s Office thought Ocampo was being held in a jail in El Paso, Texas, but found she had been released. Subsequently she was arrested in Las Cruces and police allegedly found a .38-caliber pistol on her, the same caliber weapon used to kill Montoya. The gun used was never recovered from the scene.

The trial was moved to Jan. 29, 2018 and on Jan. 24, 2018, Duffin filed a motion to continue the case a second time because detectives received information about another possible witness.

“The State is attempting to follow up on the latest lead and determine if there is a witness with either inculpatory or exculpatory information about the crime,” Duffin wrote.

She wrote she also sprained her ankle and would be in an ankle boot during the duration of the trial, which would hinder her ability to prosecute the case.

The same day, the judge reduced his bond to $2,500.

On April 20, 2018, Duffin dismissed the charges.

Duffin wrote she was dismissing the case, without prejudice, “because new information has come to light that requires further investigation in this matter.”

See the case documents on Google Drive

Joel Arciniega-Saenz - 4-20-2018 - Nolle Prosequi

Taylor James Enriquez: Alberto Nunez — 2-26-2017

  • Suspect: Taylor James Enriquez
  • Victim: Alberto Nunez
  • Non-fatal victim: Manuel Lopez Polanco
  • Charges: First-degree murder, false imprisonment and aggravated battery causing great bodily harm
  • Status: Guilty plea to second-degree murder, false imprisonment and aggravated battery causing great bodily harm
  • Sentence: 19 1/2 years
  • Date of incident:  Feb. 26, 2017
  • Agency: Las Cruces Police Department
  • Location: 600 block of South Manzanita Street, Las Cruces
  • Magistrate case number: M-14-Fr-2017-170
  • District case number: D-307-CR-2017-272
  • Pathologist: Lauren EdelmanKurt Nolte


On Feb. 26, 2017, Taylor Enriquez allegedly walked into the back yard of his friends house and, after a short fight, stabbed Alberto Nunez repeatedly in the neck with a broken bottle, killing him.

Enriquez pleaded guilty to charges of second-degree murder, false imprisonment and aggravated battery causing great bodily harm on April 10, 2018, accepted by District Court Judge Douglas Driggers, with a maximum sentence of 19 1/2 years.

On July 9, 2018, Driggers sentenced Enriquez to the maximum allowed, 19 1/2 years.

The incident

On Feb. 26, 2017, Las Cruces Police Department officers were sent to a house on South Manzanita Street following the report of a fight, Detective Felix Guerra wrote in a statement of probable cause for Taylor Enriquez’s arrest.

Taylor Enriquez

At the scene, they find Jennifer Barraza, Manuel Lopez Polanco, Edwin Lopez and Enriquez.

Lopez Polanco, Edwin Lopez’s father, had injuries to his face and was transported to the hospital and Enriquez also had facial injuries. He was not wearing a shirt but his pants and shoes were allegedly covered in blood, more than would be consistent with his injuries, Guerra wrote.

When officers checked the back of the house, they found Alberto Nunez with alleged stab wounds to the neck.

“The officers could see signs of a struggle in the back yard and a broken wooden handle,” Guerra wrote. “The jagged end of the broken wooden handle was covered in a red substance believed to be blood.”

Interview with Jennifer Barraza

Barraza told Guerra that she lives at the house with her boyfriend, Edwin Lopez, and Lopez’s father, Manuel Lopez Polanco, and her 1-year-old daughter.

The day of the alleged killing, Lopez and herself were invited to a party at Peter Piper Pizza but before going, they met with Nunez, Edwin Lopez’s cousin. Nunez wanted to come back with them to see his cousin, Lopez Polanco, Guerra wrote.

They left him at the house so they could to go the birthday party. When they came back, she found Lopez Polanco had an injury to his eye and was bloody and another man she only knew as “T. J.”

“She notices that T.J. has a black eye and he has a blank look on his face,” Guerra wrote. “She asked what happened and T.J. said ‘he killed him.'”

She went to tell Lopez that T.J. hit his father and Lopez begin to hit Enriquez.

“When she looks on the side of the house she sees Alberto on the ground,” Guerra wrote. “She asks T.J. what happened. T.J. tells her Edwin’s dad killed him. Edwin goes outside and sees Alberto on the ground. Edwin touches Alberto and says Alberto is dead. She goes to the front of the house and calls the police.”

Interview with Edwin Lopez

Lopez repeated much of what Barraza told Guerra, about picking Nunez up and going to the party.

“His girlfriend goes in the house first,” Guerra wrote. “He can hear her yelling “Babe, Babe, Demon is hitting your dad!” he enters the house and he sees that his dad Manuel Lopez Polanco has injuries to his face.”

When he asked what happened, Lopez Polanco allegedly said that the guy “did it.”

“He asks Taylor what happened,” Guerra wrote. “Taylor tells him ‘the Guero did it.’ He looks toward the side of the house and he sees his cousin Alberto on the ground. He sees that he is bloody and not moving. He touches Alberto’s ch in and shakes Alberto’s face . He tries to get Alberto to open his eyes. Alberto does not respond and he can feel that Alberto is cold to the touch.”

Lopez told Guerra he began to panic and called his brother Hector and his cousin, Danny, who is Nunez’s brother. He then grabbed Enriquez and held him until police arrived.

Interview with Manuel Lopez Polanco

Lopez Polanco left the house around 9 in the morning and had a few beers and returned home around sunset. He walked to the back yard and once inside, he saw his nephew on the ground and a “young man” allegedly standing over him, Guerra wrote.

“The young man rushes him and grabs him by the wrists,” Guerra wrote. “The young man knocks him down to the ground and begins to punch his face. The young man puts his knee on his chest pinning him down. The young man continues to punch him on the face as he tells the man to stop. He tells the young man to stop hitting him and the man stops and lets him up. He walks to the side of the house and he is alone with the man for at least 30 minutes.”

Interview with Taylor Enriquez

The day of the incident, Enriquez allegedly said that he walked to the back yard of the house on South Manzanita Street.

“He sees a man in the back yard and they are singing and talking together,” Guerra wrote. “The man started talking about the man’s mom and grandma.”

Guerra does not specify who “they” are.

“The man started tripping so he postured up to him,” Guerra wrote. “He threw a punch and hit the man on the face. The man threw a punch at him. He ducked and spun around the man and flipped him over. The man fell on the ground. The man picked up a shovel and tried to hit him with the shovel. He ducked and avoided the strike.”

He allegedly took the shovel away from Nunez, then used it to hit him in the side of the neck. He then allegedly found a bottle on the ground, picked it up and hit him on the head with it, Guerra wrote.

“The bottle breaks and he then stabs the man on the neck with the bottle,” Guerra wrote. “The man falls to the ground and the man is still breathing.”

Lopez Polanco then allegedly walked up, saw the dead man and asked what Enriquez had done.

“Manuel throws a punch at him and he moves out of the way,” Guerra wrote. “He grabs Manuel and throws Manuel to the ground. He grabs Manuel’s wrists and he puts his knee on Manuel’s chest. He holds Manuel down and he punches Manuel on the face. Manuel tells him to stop and he holds Manuel down for around 20 minutes.”

When Barraza and Lopez arrive, he allegedly let Lopez Polanco get up and then Lopez tried to fight with him.

“Edwin kicks him on the chest and he falls down and hits his face on the sidewalk,” Guerra wrote. “A short time later the police arrive.”

Injuries all around

Guerra wrote that Lopez Polanco required stitches to his face and he also had several bruises.

Officers also located a neighbor with surveillance cameras that faced the back yard.

“The video footage is dark but has audio recording of the incident,” Guerra wrote. “The audio had the sounds of someone telling another person to stop several times as the sounds of a person being struck is hard.”

The sounds of striking stopped and a few minutes later and someone arrived at the house. Then, the screaming started.

“Someone is heard asking what did you do, and who killed him, you killed my cousin, you’re not going anywhere, why would you do that T.J., you killed my cousin, T.J,” Guerra wrote.

Enriquez, while being escorted to the hospital, yelled at Barrazas that what he did was in self defense.

After leaving the hospital, he was taken back for an apparent drug overdose. Officers found he was foaming at the mouth, shaking and mumbling, Guerra wrote.

Enriquez was arraigned two days later, Feb., 28, 2017, and placed on a no-bond hold.

Below is the statement of probable cause written by Guerra.

PC - Taylor Enriquez_Redacted

Autopsy report

Forensic Pathology Fellow Lauren Edelman and Pathologist Kurt Nolte wrote in the autopsy report that Nunez-Lopez died from a slashing wound on his neck and strangulation. His blood-alcohol level was 0.30.

The indictment

On March 9, 2017, a grand jury indicted Taylor Enriquez on charges of:

  • First-degree murder
  • False imprisonment
  • Aggravated battery causing great bodily harm


Plea and sentencing

Enriquez pleaded guilty to charges of second-degree murder, false imprisonment and aggravated battery causing great bodily harm on April 10, 2018, accepted by District Court Judge Douglas Driggers.

Judge Douglas Driggers

According to the plea agreement, Enriquez was going to face a maximum sentence of 19 1/2 years in prison and that the sentences for each crime would run consecutively, or one after another. His defense attorney, James Baiamonte, agreed that he would argue for a minimum sentence of 15 years followed by five years of supervised probation while prosecutors would argue for 19 1/2 years.

On July 9, 2018, Driggers sentenced Enriquez to the maximum allowed, 19 1/2 years. Although second-degree murder carries a maximum sentence of 15 years, Enriquez was also sentenced to the maximum sentences on the charges of false imprisonment and aggravated battery.

Both aggravated battery and second-degree murder are serious violent offenses, meaning Enriquez will have to serve 85 percent of those sentences (15 and three years, respectively) before he will be eligible for parole. The charge of false imprisonment, of a year and a half, was not considered a serious violent offense and he must only serve half of that sentence.

Driggers also gave Enriquez credit for time served while awaiting trial, one year and 130 days. He was also ordered to have no contact with the victim’s family.


See the documents on Google Drive

Daniel Hood: Frank Pauline — 4-27-2015

  • Suspect: Daniel Hood
  • Victim: Frank Pauline
  • Charges: Second-degree murder, possession of a deadly weapon by a prisoner
  • Status: Guilty plea to second-degree murder, possession of a deadly weapon by a prisoner
  • Sentence: 15 years
  • Date of incident: April 27, 2015
  • Agency: State Police
  • Location: Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility, Las Cruces
  • Magistrate case number: M-14-FR-2015-00352 (File destroyed)
  • District case number: D-307-CR-2015-00523



On April 27, 2015, Daniel Hood, serving time for another murder, attacked and killed Frank Pauline by beating him three times in the back of the head with a rock while they were all out in the recreation yard at the Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility in Las Cruces.

Pauline was transferred to New Mexico from Hawaii in 2012, where he was serving a sentence for the rape and killing of a woman in 1996.

Despite that conviction, the Hawaii Innocence Project was looking into his conviction and who the DNA found on the victim in that case belonged to, thanks to new technologies.

Hood himself was serving a 180 year sentence for first and second degree murder from two killings in 1996 in Minnesota.

District Judge Fernando Macias sentenced Hood to the maximum under the plea deal, 15 years, that he must serve after finishing out his 180-year Minnesota sentence.

The incident

Daniel Hood had a plan. He was going to hit his fellow inmate, Frank Pauline, in the back of the head with a rock, either severely injuring him or killing him, according to court documents.

Daniel Hood

Hood thought Pauline knew things that were going on, had information and that the tension with him had been building up for months, State Police Investigations Bureau Agent N. Alvarado wrote in a statement of probable cause for Hood’s arrest.

State Police Sgt. Chad Pierce, the Department’s spokesman, wrote in a press release that Hood’s motivations were based on Hood’s behavior.

“Mr. Hood claimed he killed Mr. Pauline because he thought Pauline was a snitch and he walked around like he owned the place,” Pierce wrote.

On April 27, 2015, he decided to move forward with the attack, Alvarado wrote, based on his interview with Hood. The interview, on May 7, 2015, lasted 43 minutes.

Hood was handcuffed during the interview, which led to his attorney filing a motion to suppress because Hood was not read his Miranda rights before the interview. That motion was dismissed by the judge and no appeal was filed.

At some point, prison guards search Hood’s cell and found blood on his shoes and his sweatshirt top.

“Mr. Hood said that he went out there with a plan,” Alvarado wrote. “As soon as he went out to the yard, he got a rock and placed it by the cement slab. Mr. Hood said that he waited.”

Hood waited for the shift change so there were only two guards in the area.

“Mr. Hood stated after he saw the correctional officers conduct their perimeter check, he looked for Mr. Pauline,” Alvarado wrote.

Hood found Pauline walking laps around the recreational yard. There were a lot of people around him, what he wanted.

“Mr. Hood stated he expected to be caught, but he did not want to make a scene and he did not want this to become a fight,” Alvarado wrote. “Mr. Hood stated he waited until Mr. Pauline was talking to other people that way he was not paying attention as he would be distracted.”

Hood told Alvarado it took him half a lap to catch up to Pauline, because he was walking fast.

“Mr. Hood said his intention was to come up behind him and hit him in the side of the head,” Alvarado wrote. “Mr. Hood stated Mr. Pauline was walking right around the light post when he hit him. Mr. Hood said Mr. Pauline dropped straight forward.”

Hood hit him twice more in the back of the head, threw the rock and kept on walking.

Hood told Alvarado that he had grabbed the rock from west side of the yard.

“Mr. Pauline said he took his green shirt off and wrapped the rock in it,” Alvarado wrote. “Mr. Hood stated the first hit made contact in the back of Mr. Pauline’s head. Mr. Hood stated he thinks Pauline was dead when he hit the ground. He then hit him twice more.”

His sole intention was complete.

“Mr. Hood added that he did not want Mr. Pauline to walk the line again,” Alvarado wrote.

Even after killing Pauline, he walked another full lap, passing the corpse.

“Mr. Hood said the whole purpose of this attack was to prevent Mr. Pauline from defending himself or fighting,” Alvarado wrote.

Hood told Alvarado that he did not hit Pauline as hard as he could because he did not want the blood to splatter.

“Mr. Hood recalls that when he hit Mr. Pauline, he saw Mr. Pauline’s head crack,” Alvarado wrote.

Another man, William Gentry Mater, was implicated in the killing but never charged.

A guard in the jail listened to Mater’s phone calls and heard him call an unidentified woman and ask her to look up Pauline on Google and he would call her back to see what she was able to find out.

“The unidentified female tells him that Mr. Pauline had several criminal charges when he was a minor,” Alvarado wrote. “She proceeds to tell Mr. Mater that Mr. Pauline also had charges for murdering and raping a 23 year old female. At this time Mr. Mater tell the female that those charges are bad.”

Daniel Hood - Affidavit for arrest warrant - 5-14-2015


Past crimes

Frank Pauline’s past

Frank Pauline was serving a sentence for the 1991 rape and killing of Dana Ireland in Hawaii, according to news reports.

He was transferred to New Mexico in 2012 and his death was covered extensively in Hawaii.

Just days before Hood killed him, the Hawaii Innocence Project announced that DNA evidence in the old case could point to a different attacker than the three men sent to prison.

Daniel Hood’s past murder conviction

According to the supplemental criminal information filed on June 29, 2015 in Hood’s case, he was convicted of murder on July 10, 1998 in Kandiyohi County, Minn. for killing two people on Oct. 30, 1996.

According to the West Central Tribune in Willmar, Minn., Hood killed Bruce Johnson, 51, and Grace Christiansen, 81, from New London, Minn. He is serving a 180 year sentence.


Court proceedings

Motion to suppress

Hood’s attorney, Mario Esparza, wrote in his Nov. 23, 2015 motion to suppress his client’s interview with Alvarado.

Hood was never read his Miranda rights, and was therefore unable to waive them. He was also handcuffed while talking to the two agents conducting the interview, Esparza wrote.

Esparza argued this was a custodial interrogation. To admit a custodial interview at trial, the defendant has to be advised of his Miranda rights, as decided in State v. Verdugo, 2007- NMCA-095, 142 N.M. 267, State v. Salazar, 1997-NMCA-044, 123 N.M. 778 and Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1996).

Further, the burden of proof that the Miranda rights were read is on the state, he wrote.

“The New Mexico Court of Appeals has found ‘unless or until such warnings and waiver are demonstrated by the prosecution at trial, no evidence obtained as a result of interrogation can be used against [the defendant],'” Esparza wrote.

The crux of Esparza’s argument was that Hood was “in custody” when he was interviewed. If someone is not “in custody” or arrested, that is, if someone can voluntarily leave, officers do not have to read the Miranda rights.

“Defendant was serving a life sentence in Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility,” Esparza wrote. “Defendant was handcuffed during the interrogation. Defendant was ordered to remove himself from his cell and speak with individuals who wanted to speak with him. Based on the totality of the circumstances here, Defendant was in custody for purposes of Miranda.”

Prosecutor Cynthia Clark wrote in a response that Hood requested to speak with the State Police agents.

Clark cited State v. Lopez, 2000-NMCA-069, 129 N.M. 352, 8 P.3d 154, where the New Mexico Court of Appeals decided that when it comes to the rights of prisoners, to decide if they are in a custodial interrogation depends on what additional restrains to their freedom of movement have been implemented.

“The court in Lopez did not find that handcuffing the suspect or interviewing in an office to be an ‘appreciable measure of pressure or
coercion beyond the usual prison environment,” Clark wrote. “See Conley, 779 F.2d at 973-94 (handcuffs were standard procedure for transporting inmates)’ Id at, 10. Similar to the facts in Lopez, the defendant was handcuffed and transported to an office at the prison, which is customary procedure in a correctional facility.”

In addition, Alvarado did not threaten or cajole Hood.

“Thus, based on the totality of the circumstances, the defendant was not subjected to any additional pressure of a kind and intensity that would render subsequent statements by the defendant to be the product of unfair coercion,” Clark wrote. “Therefore, the defendant was not in custodial interrogation under which Miranda warnings were required and his statements to Agent Alvarado were not tainted and thus, do not require suppression.”

District Judge Fernando Macias wrote in his order denying the motion to suppress that Hood was not in custody for purposes of his Miranda rights because the shackles he was in were normal for a prisoner at his threat level and that the room they were in was not cramped.

“On balance, and in view of the totality of the circumstances, the hearing evidence did not establish that Defendant was questioned in a custodial setting for Miranda purposes,” Macias wrote. “Where either the “custody” or ‘interrogation’ prong is absent, the cautionary warnings formulated in Miranda are not required.”


Daniel Hood - Motion to supress

The plea and sentence


Portrait of District Judge Fernando Macias
Judge Fernando Macias

On Jan. 18, 2017, Hood pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and possession of a deadly weapon by a prisoner, both second-degree felonies, although second-degree murder carries a higher penalty of 15 years in prison to possession’s nine years.

According to the plea, whatever sentence he received for both charges would run concurrent to each other, that is, they would both be served at the same time, but they would be served consecutive to Hood’s sentence in the 1996 murder.

That meant Hood would have to be eligible for release on the 1996 murder conviction before he would begin to serve the second-degree murder and possession of a deadly weapon charges.

Following the plea, Macias sentenced Hood to the maximum: 15 years in prison.

Because he is already serving a 180 year sentence, whatever sentence Macias gave him means almost nothing.




Daniel Hood - Judgement Redacted


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